By Alois Vinga
A GLOBAL labour group has written to President Emmerson Mnangagwa condemning judicial persecution of Zimbabwean trade unionists whose cases have not been finalised since 2018.
A copy of the letter dated February 4, 2020 and signed by the International Trade Union Confederation’s (ITUC) general secretary, Sharan Burrow criticised Mnangagwa’s administration for allegedly suppressing workers’ rights.
“I am writing on behalf of the ITUC representing 207 million workers in 163 countries including Zimbabwe to strongly condemn the continued harassment and judicial persecution for trade unionists in your country for carrying out their legitimate trade union activities,” she said.
Burrow questioned why the case of Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) activists involving Dickson Chaeruka and 18 others who were arrested in Mutare in October 2018 for staging a demonstration against government’s unpopular introduction of a 2 % tax on electronic transactions has not yet been finalised over such a long period of time.
This is despite that ZCTU president Peter Mutasa and secretary general, Japhet Moyo who were instrumental in organising the demonstration, were acquitted over similar charges last year.
The concerns are being raised at a time when the 19 activists who have appeared in court for a record eleven times had their case postponed to February 24, 2020.
“We are also concerned that Thomas Masvingwe who leads the National Energy Workers Union of Zimbabwe is still facing criminal charges arising from the 2018 demonstration. Another activist who is the ZCTU secretary general, John Chirenda remains dismissed by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority,” she said.
The ITUC chief said the unions the world over are worried by the rise in the cost of living prompted by failed austerity measures which have seen Zimbabwean workers living in poverty.
She urgently demanded the immediate amendment of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act, Maintenance of Peace and Order Act, the Labour Act, the Public Service Act and the Health Services Act among other statutes.
The ITUC successfully called for the global day of action on February 4, 2020 to lobby the Harare administration to withdraw all criminal charges against the activists.